Flat Foot | Treatment Options [Video]

Ask the Expert | Foot and Ankle

Video Transcription:

Flat foot is kind of a general catch-all term that I think everyone understands, but there are various reasons why a person can develop a flat foot. The most common reason is there’s a big tendon on the inside of your ankle called the posterior tibial tendon. And it comes down into the foot, and its job, in addition to a series of ligaments, is to hold up your arch. The most common reason why people’s arches fall is because that tendon is failing. Sometimes that’s a traumatic injury, like an injury where the tendon tears immediately. Oftentimes, it’s over time, the tendon degenerates and separates like a horse’s mane. And over that time, people’s feet can go flatter and flatter. We grade a flat foot or a posterior tibial tendon dysfunction based on a number of things. But the most important is whether or not the deformity that has developed is flexible or rigid. If I can take someone’s foot and restore their arch manually within in my examination, then they have a good chance of becoming pain-free with an orthotic and a stretching program. If a flat foot is left too long without any sort of intervention or treatment, the joints of the foot can develop arthritis or wearing down of the cartilage, and that leads to a more rigid deformity that can’t be corrected. And in that situation, if the pain is severe enough that someone is ready for surgery, we have to fuse joints in the foot and take away their motion. So it’s always better to see someone when they’re in that flexible phase so that we can intervene and keep the joints of the foot moving like they should.

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  • Samuel D. Russ, M.D.

    “Our mobility is so integral to our quality of life. I take a conservative approach to care, reserving surgery as the last option. My goal is to work with my patients to return them to the activities that they love – from high level athletics, work, enjoying time with friends and family, and everything in between.”

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